Former WWE wrestler Steve Austin, it seems, has become the new luminary of straight-to-video action films. Arriving after Damage, The Stranger, Hunt to Kill and Knockout, 2011’s Tactical Force was made by newcomer writer-director Adamo P. Cultraro, and his inexperience shows. A high-gloss action-thriller, Tactical Force solely aimed to provide some brainless thrills, but it fails to be a fun testosterone-soaked rollercoaster due to its banal, pedestrian and moronic nature. Trust me, this movie has nothing that you haven’t seen done hundreds of times before in any number of better, more exciting action films.
Tactical Force concerns a gung-ho, “shoot first, ask questions later” L.A.P.D. SWAT team led by Captain Tate (Austin). Following a disastrous hostage-rescue mission ending in robber deaths, injured hostages and thousands of dollars of property damage, the team’s long-suffering boss forces them to undergo retraining to improve their mission tactics. They’re sent to an isolated hangar for their scheduled exercises, but show up on the very day that two rival gangs (each consisting of only two people…) are fighting over something so important that the writer-director was too lazy to actually figure out what it could be. Since the SWAT team are only training, they have no live ammunition…just blanks. Thus, the team become trapped in an isolated location surrounded by dangerous people with no weapons and no way to call for back-up.
Tactical Force admittedly looks slick, but it rapidly grows tedious once the characters reach the hangar due to boring dialogue and bland actors. The material is so bad that even Michael Jai White is stiff here. The action, meanwhile, often bores through its repetitiveness. Literally, most of the action beats consist of people being held at gunpoint before the gunman is attacked by their opponent. I lost count of how many times the bad guys held Tate’s team at gunpoint but chose to deliver dull dialogue instead of just shooting the trouble-makers. Some of the action set-pieces are a tad enjoyable, but most of them are poorly-staged – for the most part, the enemies have a clear shot at the good guys, but keep on missing for no reason other than the script demands it. It’s a given that bad guys can’t shoot straight in action movies, but to this extent is ridiculous. And the film’s straight-to-video nature is often obvious. The score, for instance, is generic and cheap, and transitions are far too chintzy. The quality of straight-to-video movies has been improving of late, but Tactical Force sets the standard back a few years.
Tactical Force also strains credulity to breaking point and beyond with its countless coincidences, synchronicities and so-called “plot twists”, not to mention exhaustive stupidity. Take, for example, the opening sequence: a supermarket robbery. Since this is a dumb action movie, the robbers don’t just stroll in and ask for cash – instead, they burst in with powerful weapons and Halloween masks, and proceed to threaten everyone. A hostage negotiator is brought in, but Tate sends the negotiator home before telling a robber to go fuck himself and charging into the store with guns blazing. One of the robbers then comes face-to-face with Tate while holding a civilian hostage. Instead of negotiating, Tate just drops both his gun and protective helmet, and runs at full speed towards the armed robber to crash tackle him. (Never mind that Tate’s opponent is armed and has enough time to shoot Tate or his hostage, or both…) What the fuck kind of tactics are these? How did these hooligans ever pass their examinations? How were they instated in the force? Why were they allowed to do this stuff for so long? More pertinently, why the fuck were they sent to the grocery store if this is their M.O.? And if they weren’t sent by their superiors, why are they allowed to freely roam the streets? And this is just the first 10 minutes… Screw insulting just your intelligence, Tactical Force insults the intelligence of anyone within a 10 mile radius.
Cultraro’s writing is monumentally lazy too, as the film never reveals the item that the bad guys want (this film isn’t smart enough to have a mysterious MacGuffin…), and there’s a “twist” at the end that’s both stupid and inadequately explained. It’s as if this twist was the result of a last-minute rewrite/reshoot, because it makes no sense in the context of everything that came before it. It feels like Cultraro knew how stupid it was, too, because he flat-out refuses to explain it. Cultraro probably thought he was being clever, but this just renders his script retarded.
With its boundless clichés (including Russian baddies) and so many flaws in basic logic that are impossible to overlook, even the most dedicated action fans will have a hard time getting through this drab mess without constantly rolling their eyes and/or sighing heavily. The movie looks pretty good, sure, but it’s let down by its awful screenwriting and vanilla actors.